Google's Coder tool turns Raspberry Pi into a mini web server

Google's Coder tool turns Raspberry Pi into a mini web server

Summary: Raspberry Pi tinkerers have a new tool from Google that helps make use of the device as a private web development environment.


Google has released Coder, a free open source tool to make it easier to use Raspberry Pi mini-computers to build for the web.

Raspberry Pi : Vital statistics

  • Broadcom BCM 2835 chipset
  • ARM1176JZFS chip with a floating point co-processor, running at 700MHz
  • Videocore IV GPU, capable of BluRay quality playback, using H.264 at 40MBits/s
  • Ships with OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries
  • HDMI out
  • Model B: 512MB of memory, two USB ports and a 10/100 BaseT Ethernet port
  • Model A: 256MB of memory, one USB port

Hatched by Google Creative Lab 'creative technologist' Jason Striegel, designer Jeff Baxter, and a small team in New York, Coder offers a stepping stone for people interested in building for the web by converting cheap Raspberry Pi mini-computers into personal web servers through a stripped-back web-based development environment. 

Google's pitching Coder at an education audience, a potential sweet spot for Raspberry Pi given its $35 price tag and one Google has focused on previously, gifting 15,000 of the devices to UK schools earlier this year. Raspberry Pi supporters in the UK have also been urging schools to use the devices to spur interest in coding, hacking and building.

According to Google, Coder offers a simple platform that teachers and others can use to demonstrate how to build for the web through browser-based projects written in HTML, CSS and Javascript. 

Using Coder obviously requires a Raspberry Pi device, although the tool itself can be downloaded from the web to a Mac or PC — a Mac OS X installer is included in the bundle, but PC users will need to download separate utilities. Users will also need a 4GB SD card to transfer the Coder SD image to the Raspberry Pi.

The Coder landing page is organised in a grid displaying the developer's apps as well as a gear icon to adjust Coder's setting details such as name, password and wireless settings.

Developers can also view a preview of their project using the eye icon. 

2013-09-13 02.16.08 pm
Previewing work in Coder. Image: Google

Coder can run on a standard wired Ethernet connection, while running it on a wi-fi connection requires a mini wi-fi module for the Pi, which costs around $12.

Coder has password controlled sign-in and accessing it on the Pi device is done via a web browser on a computer on the same network. All projects are stored on the Pi device itself.

Further reading

Topics: Software Development, Google, Education

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Node.js on Pi

    I've been teaching Node.js on the Raspberry Pi and a Python web server on Pi is a no-brainer. I;m not sure I want to change gear to a non-standard distro. Seems worth a look over though.

    If interested, here's Node.js install directions:

    Outstanding article. Many more articles like this are needed.

    The Raspberry Pi is a TEACHING machine, and NOT a springboard to building a desktop or laptop; even though it does a really credible job in that scenario, and in constructing machines which need an embedded controller.

    I am a university teacher of Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. I am going to require that my students, in one or two courses, have a Raspberry Pi in order to learn the BASICS of digital computing.

    Yes, you will spend $150 or more building a "computer" with the RPi as its base.
    That is exactly NOT what the Raspberry Pi Foundation intended, nor is it why the Foundation wants learners to buy a Pi.

    If you consider yourself too sophisticated to learn, buy a Chromebook for $199. You'll be happier, and not frustrated (it's extremely interesting that new small, medium-sized, and big children ((including me)) are not frustrated with the RPi. Perhaps that's because they don't know enough?).

    Get an Rπ. With the correct mind-set you're guaranteed tons of fun.
    And it costs only $35.00.
  • Ugg ZDNet

    This is a great article but just 2 days ago there is this complete load of crap

    The writer of said crap claims to have 20 years of experience but does not have a spare keyboard